Football

Swansea held to draw by Napoli's 'keeping brilliance

Substitute keeper Pepe Reina in action for Napoli last night (©GettyImages)
Substitute keeper Pepe Reina in action for Napoli last night (©GettyImages).

It was one of Swansea’s best passing performances of the season in the first half, moving the ball around swiftly much like Champions League sides Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Despite having the firepower of £34.5million striker Gonzalo Higuain and captain Marek Hamsik, Napoli failed to show any of the quality that they had previously displayed when playing in this season’s Champions League.

It was actually Swansea who looked the more likely to score, with class performances from both of Napoli keepers Rafael and halftime replacement Pepe Reina keeping out the Welsh side.

Wilfried Bony came closest to finding the net in the first half when a beautiful through ball from Pablo Hernandez found him one on one with the keeper; had the Ivorian scored it would have changed the complexion of the game.

As the game went on it looked like Rafael Benitez was happy for his side to come away from Swansea with a draw, with the Spaniard obviously hoping that his side can do the job in Naples.

Napoli looked lacklustre and this had a lot to do with the impressive defender Chico Flores, who looked very comfortable on and off the ball. The composure of the Spaniard meant that after winning back possession, Swansea could calmly play out from the back.

It wasn’t just from Swansea’s short passing that the side looked dangerous, on a couple of occasions in the first half Ashley Williams looked for the long diagonal ball towards wingers Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer.

Both players looked like they had the beating of their full backs as Dyer was too hot to handle for ageing defender Reveillere, beating him several times and creating many an opportunity for front man Bony.

Since Garry Monk took charge of Swansea his biggest change in the team so far has been to switch former Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez into a central attacking midfielder, and the move seems to have worked.

On the wing Hernandez often looked like he wasn’t always fast enough or strong enough to beat a competent fullback in the English game, whereas from the centre of the pitch he looks like he’s found his place in the Swansea jigsaw.

His pass to put Bony through on goal was inch perfect, he saw the gap that many players signed for a mere £5million wouldn’t have seen and managed to play it in between the centre back and full back. 

Swansea will be hoping that they can repeat this performance away from home but previous results may suggest they may have some difficulty doing that, having only won one game away from home in Europe in five outings.

The Welsh side will be hoping that they can emulate their heroics of the 3-0 win away from home at Valencia in September. 

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Topics:
Swansea City
Wilfried Bony
Nathan Dyer
Jose Reina
Football

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